Not a proper Streets of Washington like the awesome one from earlier this week but this photo from the collection of John DeFerrari is so freaking cool. John is the author of Historic Restaurants of Washington, D.C.: Capital Eats

I had no idea that:

“The storefront at 1610 U Street NW supposedly housed a speakeasy in Prohibition days. In the 1940s and 1950s it was Alfred’s Steak House, prominently located at the western end of the “Black Broadway” of U Street. According to Stetson’s web site, Alfred’s customers included Duke Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Nat King Cole, Count Basle, and Sarah Vaughn. Stetson’s Bar and Grill opened on the site in 1980.”

I also had no idea that Stetson’s has been open since 1980!?!…

1610 U Street, NW today

Streets of Washington, written by John DeFerrari, covers some of DC’s most interesting buildings and history. John is the author of Historic Restaurants of Washington, D.C.: Capital Eats, published by the History Press, Inc. and also the author of Lost Washington DC.

Fourteenth Street NW between Irving Street and Park Road, the commercial hub of Columbia Heights, bustles with activity today. Though it took decades for the block to bounce back from the devastation of the 1968 riots, its new vitality is not really new. One hundred years ago, this block had the same central role in the life of upper Northwest, and the Arcade, a massive multi-purpose entertainment and commercial complex located where the DC USA mall now stands, was its heart.

Arcade 01
(Author’s collection).

The Arcade began as a Capitol Traction Company streetcar garage, a spacious structure built in 1892, when streetcar lines were first being electrified and extended past the old city limits (at Florida Avenue) into the hilly countryside of upper Northwest. The building’s fanciful Romanesque Revival style, complete with arched windows and turreted corners, was in vogue at the time and was similar to that of the Metropolitan Railway car barn, completed in 1896, which still stands today as a condominium complex at 1400 East Capital Street NE.

The Park Road garage served as the terminus of the 14th Street trolley line for only about a decade. In 1906, 14th Street was extended north to Decatur Street, and streetcar tracks were quickly laid on the newly graded and paved thoroughfare. A large and attractive new car barn was built at the Decatur Street terminus (it also still stands today), rendering the old Park Road structure obsolete. (more…)

717 6th Street, NW

Well this building, formerly home to Muse Lounge, is pretty freaking awesome. Built in 1928, the Bulletin Building:

“The architectural firm of Rodier & Kundzin designed the building for the United Publishing Company. The main façade of the building is constructed in limestone, and features four Art Deco bas relief panels that portray the printing trade and ties the building to the trade, that it housed for 60 years.”

It is owned by the group that owns, seemingly, nearly all of DC’s cool historic buildings – Douglas Development. The 7,070 rentable square feet building is currently for lease though no price is listed.


Lots more photos including closeups of the Art Deco bas relief panels after the jump. (more…)

03/26/14 5:00pm


From an email:

What: Come greet 25 DC-area WWII veterans and give them the ‘welcome home’ that has been owed to them for nearly 70 years. It’s quite easy: simply applaud, cheer and say ‘thank you’ to the veterans.
Where: Armed Forces Retirement Home, 140 Rock Creek Church Rd, NW, DC 20111 – free parking at AFRH
When: Saturday, April 5 at 3:15pm EDT – veterans arrive at 4:00pm sharp, so folks will need time to park, walk to greeting area, etc.
Why: Help us to honor our Greatest Generation; let’s let these amazing men and women know that their service all those years ago has not been forgotten.”


03/11/14 5:00pm


From an email:

“Bordered by the federal capital but separated from Virginia and the Confederacy only by the Potomac River, the citizens of Prince George’s County found themselves on the front lines of the Civil War. As Maryland’s largest slave-owning county, some joined the Confederacy while many remained loyal to the Union.

Learn more about this divided history as authors Nathania A. Branch Miles, Monday A. Miles and Ryan J. Quick discuss their new book Prince George’s County And the Civil War Life on the Border; on Wednesday, March 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Washingtoniana, Room 307, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW.”

03/06/14 12:30pm

Streets of Washington, written by John DeFerrari, covers some of DC’s most interesting buildings and history. John is the author of Historic Restaurants of Washington, D.C.: Capital Eats, published by the History Press, Inc. and also the author of Lost Washington DC.

Running a fashionable supper club in the 1920s was not for the fainthearted. Certainly there was plenty of money to be made, and club owners outdid themselves to create the most exotic destinations imaginable. But these were the days of Prohibition, and the “dry” agents were always on the look-out for places where people seemed to be having a little too much fun. One such place was Le Paradis, one of the DC’s ritziest 1920s nightspots, located at 1 Thomas Circle NW.

Le Paradis (1931)
The Le Paradis at 1 Thomas Circle, with its rooftop garden, in 1931 (Author’s collection).

Le Paradis was the creation of legendary impresario and bandleader Meyer Davis (1893-1976), who was born in nearby Ellicott City, Maryland, and moved to the District as a child with his family. Davis loved music from an early age, starting his own five-member band (which played for $25 an evening), after his high-school orchestra rejected him. In 1914, while he was a law student at George Washington University, his band was breaking new ground playing music for hot new dances like the bunny hug, the turkey trot, and the grizzly bear. Soon his group had a gig playing lunches and dinners at the Willard Hotel, and Davis quickly settled on the supper club scene as his preferred métier. Tall, slim, and balding, Davis had an urbane air that appealed to his wealthy clientele, and his energy and verve in twirling his conductor’s baton seemed to always bring the audience to their feet. In later years, he would be dubbed the “Toscanini of society band leaders.” (more…)

02/20/14 5:00pm


“On The Road and At Home with The Rolling Stones”

Author and Rolling Stones insider Bill German will discuss his ups and downs with “the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.” His book, Under Their Thumb, chronicles his friendship with the Stones (forged when he was just a teenager) and how he became the band’s official historian for two decades. He traveled the world with them, stayed at their homes, and witnessed their private jam sessions, decadent parties, and vicious in-fights.

He’ll share his humorous anecdotes and never-before-seen photos at the Petworth Library at 4200 Kansas Avenue, NW, Washington, DC on Saturday, March 1, from 2pm to 4 pm. A book signing will follow. Admission is free.

Event is sponsored by the Friends of the Petworth Library.”

02/18/14 4:00pm

326 T Street, NW (Old Maple Ave)

We first wondered about this house back in 2008. Sad to be reminded it’s still in the same shape as it was back then. The Post published an interesting history on the home over the weekend:

“The home’s owner, Howard University, has halted its plans to rehabilitate the Terrell House as a local museum and community space. That movement lost its momentum during the Great Recession, and there has been little effort to resuscitate it since.”



Check out a Mary Church Terrell tribute in Bloomingdale after the jump. (more…)

Streets of Washington, written by John DeFerrari, covers some of DC’s most interesting buildings and history. John is the author of Historic Restaurants of Washington, D.C.: Capital Eats, published by the History Press, Inc. and also the author of Lost Washington DC.

The Ambassador Hotel, located on the southwest corner of 14th and K Streets NW across from Franklin Square, was a showcase of modern amenities and conveniences when it opened in September 1929. It was the work of successful developer Morris Cafritz (1890-1964), who lived at the hotel for a number of years and had his offices there. An important and distinctive DC landmark, the Ambassador nevertheless didn’t aim for the heights of refinement and elegance embodied in, say, the Willard or the Mayflower. Instead it was designed for the common man, advertising itself as the “stopping place of experienced travelers.”

Ambassador Hotel 01
An early postcard view of the Ambassador. Adjoining buildings are not shown. (Author’s collection).

Born in Russia, Cafritz arrived in the U.S. as a child. His father eked out a living running a small neighborhood grocery store off of North Capitol Street. As a young man, Cafritz tried his hand at a variety of early businesses—he ran a coal company, then a saloon on 8th Street SE. He set up chairs in an empty lot and showed silent movies. He opened a bowling alley in the old Center Market, then added several more, until they called him Washington’s Bowling King. Like many businessmen of his era, his early retail successes led him to move into real estate, and it was as a speculative developer that he had his greatest success. (more…)